Is it just me?

I listen to CBC radio on my way to work in the morning (I love Tom Allen - not in THAT way, Dean - and quite enjoy sitting in traffic these days). This morning, on the 8 o'clock news, they were talking about Canada taking gold at the junior men's hockey championship. My first thought was "Excellent! Way to go, guys!" But then they started talking to the team captain about the game and how they won, and he said part of their strategy, right from the dressing room, was to "take out" Russia's star forward at the first opportunity, to get him out of the game as quickly as possible. He then related how, in the second period, when the Russian had the puck, 3 Canadian players crashed him into the boards. He retired from the game with a shoulder injury that, according to the Russian coach, will require surgery.

I notice that none of this appears in the CBC article about the game, aside from a brief mention, right at the end, that the Russian forward "injured his shoulder". No mention that it was a deliberately inflicted injury. I can accept that the Canadian players didn't intend to disable him permanently, and may even feel badly that he needs surgery (giving them the full benefit of the doubt). But there's no question that they intended to injure him badly enough that he would not be able to finish the game.

Why? Why is this necessary? And what is it telling our kids about competitive sports? If there's someone you can't beat openly, it's OK to hurt them until they quit?

I realize that being checked into the boards is part of the game. I have no problem with that, or with accidental injuries. These are big boys, after all, and they know what they're getting into. And professional players, as a whole, are more than adequately compensated for the hits they take (current NHL negotiations to the contrary).

But I do take issue when a team's winning strategy includes the requirement to "take out" an opposing player, to inflict damage to the point where he is forced to quit the game.

That, to me, is rotten sportsmanship.